Peter was an apostate. An apostate is one who denies the faith, a defector, a turncoat, one who deserts. That's what Peter did to Jesus and he did it not long after boasting that he would die for the faith. Peter's faith failed. He then went to the darkest hours of his life.
Jesus Christ was interceding on behalf of Peter. If Jesus felt it was necessary to intercede for Peter, why didn't He just go ahead and stop Satan from sifting Peter like wheat altogether? Jesus could have denied Satan permission to sift Peter, but he didn't. Why?
Jesus sometimes allows the devil to try us for one of two reasons. First, He will allow a trial to manifest a sin that we're unaware of or have minimized so greatly in our minds that we don't realize the seriousness of it. Second, Jesus will grant Satan permission to target us in order to stimulate our spiritual development and growth.
Peter's big mistake was in his overconfidence that he would never deny his Lord. He thought that denying Jesus was not in his character. He just didn't think he could do something like that. But it was always in Peter's character to do it; he just didn't know it. Peter didn't think he could deny Jesus Christ, but as soon as the devil saw Peter was thinking that way, Satan decided that was exactly where he was going to target him.
That should serve as a warning to each of us. Satan often looks to bring us down in the very area where we would never imagine we could fall. But when, like Peter, we say that something like that could never happen to us, we need to be the most careful. Each one of us is capable of a lot more than we're often aware. The history of Abraham, Aaron, Moses, David, Solomon, Samson, Jacob, Miriam should convince us of this.
Now Peter had to come face-to-face with the reality that he had done something he never thought he could do. Peter failed, and as a result, we see him returning to do the very thing he had left in order to follow Jesus. He went back to a life by the sea.
Similar things happen to us as believers as well. Maybe after you fail in an area of your spiritual life, you decide it would be better if you just went back to what you knew once before. Maybe you go back to the old life, old crowd, or old habit patterns. Satan triumphs.
However, Jesus wants your eyes back on Him. He doesn't want to lose you after you've spent so much time with Him already. He loves you. Yes, maybe you fell away, just as Peter and the other biblical characters mentioned above fell away, but Jesus looongs for your return.
Jesus went looking for Peter and found him out fishing, catching absolutely nothing. Jesus from the shore calls out to Peter and his buddies and asks them to cast the net on the right side of the ship and when they did they were not able to haul it in for the multitudes of fish. When Peter understood that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on, and threw himself into the sea. John 20:1-7
Bottom line, Peter didn't waste any time returning to Jesus. Once Peter knew that Jesus was talking to him, Peter jumped in the water and swam to shore before the boat could get there. That's what forgiveness will do for you. Once you realize that Jesus still loves you and has forgiven you for what you've done, you'll desire to get to Him as fast as possible!!!
Jesus gave Peter's job back to him. He gave his mission back to him. He said, "Peter, feed my sheep." Your job is secure despite your failure. Yes Jesus tested whether his love was now a 100% and when it was; He wanted Peter to be a fisher of men.
Because of Peter's failure and restoration, he was now more able to take care of others who might be struggling and hurting too. Now he could identify with them and rely on God to help him do what he needed to do. God could use Peter at an even greater level now because Peter wasn't just going to be spouting theology and patting his own back any longer. Peter knew how it felt to fail, hurt, and need another chance. Peter knew how to strengthen others who were in a similar place by helping them to see the same Jesus who met him at his point of failure. We all have a future with God!
The key qualification for God to use you is that you're honest about your love for Him. God knows the worst there is to know about you, He also knows the best there is to know about you. And He wants to use you to strengthen others, just as He used Peter. He knows that once you have rebounded from your failures, you have the potential to be stronger than you were before your failure.
If you have ever failed God, denied Him, dismissed Him, doubted Him, ignored Him, or just plain left Him, and if, like Peter, you have a sign on your heart that says you have gone fishing, you need to listen for the familiar voice that Peter heard that morning on the shore. That same voice is calling to you as well.
If you will answer Him and return to Him, He can use you in ways you could never imagine. It is not too late. He is waiting for you!
Strengthened through Christ,